Daddy's Girl7:30 AM
Because I’m not getting enough sleep at night by writing this post over and over again in my head, I’m just going to say it. It will be the grand finale to our two weeks of controversy. Then—perhaps—we will move on to more light-hearted things, like exercise regimes and preschool and dancing pink elephants.
Since we stumbled upon the business of exposing the core beliefs of stay-at-home daughters, homemakers-in-training and married-girl-wannabes, we would miss out on the full picture by not tackling the father/daughter relationship.
Sign off now if you like. Read on if you dare to be challenged. I frustrate my own self.
A wife’s most beautiful adornment is submission, submission with a meek and quiet spirit very precious in the sight of God. Peter puts out the example of Sarah, who “obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (1 Peter 3:6). Egalitarian cheap shots at a wife’s call to submit cannot topple the clear teaching of Scripture, unless one twists the Apostles’ arms behind their backs and calls them chauvinist bigots. Interestingly, I noted two clear examples of a husband’s authority over his wife, both regarding the birth of children. Sarah, of course, wins the prize as notable obedient wife. With her son, the Lord revealed to Abraham, her husband, that she would bear a child, in a clear acknowledgement of the oneness of husband and wife and the husband’s authority in that oneness. Another is Elizabeth, whose miraculous son’s birth also was told to her husband Zechariah before she found out—again, I would argue, a clear appeal to the husband’s headship.
Even more interestingly, in the case of the betrothed yet unmarried Mary, her father was not consulted on the birth of the Messiah. He’s not even mentioned in the story. Her future husband was alerted, of course, but according to Jewish law, he didn’t have legal authority over her yet. She was still in her father’s house.
Someone pointed that out to me the other day, and I use it not as a primary defense on my following views, but as a launchpad for my primary point: the patriarchal view behind stay-at-home daughters dangerously muddles the family relationships, downplaying the wife/mother’s role, blowing up the father’s role and confusing the clear role of the daughter.
As a quick disclaimer, this is not an attack against stay-at-home daughters. I plan on using the home as my default place of residence, both because I desire Christian accountability and I see no benefit in renting an apartment alone with a couple of cats. I would be bored to death and might take to eating Lays and watching soaps. I’m only slightly joking, but my point is that what I don’t want you taking from this is, “Bailey says girls can’t stay home”—no, not at all. What I’m going to be arguing against is the idea that girls should stay home, that they are obligated to, that their primary place is right alongside their father.
You know, the Bible never lays out specific patterns of behavior for a daughter to her father or a son to his father or a daughter to her mother or a son to his mother. Nowhere does the Bible equate the daughter’s relationship to her father as a special, kingdom-enhancing relationship. But the Bible does very explicitly lay out the duties of children to their parents. While under our parents’ authority as children (i.e., until we are supporting themselves alone), we are to obey both our father and our mother.
There’s much talk about submitting to one’s father as training ground for submitting to one’s husband, which does have a logical connection, but that should not be the sole reason for staying home. Our obedience to our parents has little to do with our future relationship to our husband but everything to do with our obedience to God. Ephesians 5:21—“submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ”—prefaces chapter 6 on parent/children relationships, and indeed the rest of chapter 5 on husbands and wives. “Children,” Paul instructs, “obey your parents in the Lord.” Obedience to our parents is practical obedience to the Lord. And the parent/child relationship is not to practice husband/wife relationships but to instill “the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Not to say of course that obeying our parents doesn’t cultivate an obedient, submissive spirit imperative in marriage but that it’s narrow-minded to view the father/daughter relationship solely or primarily on those grounds. Our married lives may never occur except in our daydreams or they may be cut short by death, but our duty to obey to our God and His instituted authorities will never end. A submissive and obedient spirit models Christ’s submission to His heavenly Father—it’s a beautiful testament to the world, in stark contrast to the self-centered culture, and reflects the life-death to conform to Christ.
If a child leaves his father’s home, either by marriage or by setting up one’s own household without the financial support of his father, obedience no longer applies. The command now shifts to a different, though no less serious, command to “Honor your father and your mother.”
Whatever the age or situation of the child, the parent/child relationship is a critical one with long-lasting implications. Solomon instructs his son to listen to his counsel and the wisdom of his mother, adorning himself in their life-protecting grace. A healthy, honoring relationship both in and out of the home is a must for anyone claiming the name Christian.
Notice that there isn’t specific commands to daughters to stick beside their daddy in thick and thin until marriage, to support his vision with her whole unmarried life and to treat him as “her man.”
What we do have is the serious command to obey and honor both parents. There’s no need to emphasize the father, no need to create a special, life-binding relationship to him. Certainly today’s culture doesn’t value dads very much, so special attention on ways to honor and respect one’s father are helpful, but it’s not as if mothers are held in any higher regard. Both have authority over the child as long as she is in the home; both have honor due to them.
Now it’s absurd to think that a daughter’s relationship to her father will look exactly like her brother’s relationship to their dad. I believe women were created with a special emphasis of God’s nature in them, being the more supportive, helpful, nurturing half of mankind. A father will greatly respond to respect given him by his daughter—as will any man respond to a respectful woman. It’s in the man’s nature to receive respect; it’s in the godly woman’s nature to give it. So honoring one’s father will look different than honoring one’s mother, and it is perfectly acceptable to make the distinction between what honors a man and what honors a woman.
One of the things that bugs me about the view that a girl is bound to her father until marriage (and I say that because I used to believe the same thing) is that its creates an either/or fallacy: either you stay home and honor your father or leave home and dishonor your father. Whether it’s in the short-term like a missions trip or a college adventure or a long-term ministry opportunity outside her father’s walls, a girl—so the subconscious attitude goes—is dishonoring her father.
I think this is wrong for two reasons. First of all, a daughter doesn’t have to be her father’s sub-helpmeet in order to honor him and support his vision. Just because I don’t believe in the patriarchal view of the father/daughter relationship doesn’t mean I don’t care about my father and his vision. I love to discuss the things my dad loves—I love to encourage him in his ministries and interests—I’ll even suspend my boredom with sports when he’s around, simply because I love and respect him. I’d do that for any brother in Christ, but especially for my father.
Secondly and ironically, this patriarchal view doesn’t actually care about a particular father’s preferences. It’s mainly what other stay-at-home daughters’ fathers think and then applied to what all dads should think, thus maintaining a set-in-stone pattern of father/daughter relationships. So we pity girls whose dads tell them to go to college or get a job, mourning with them that their fathers stepped outside the pattern and thus forced their daughters to do so as well.
This goes against the very beliefs stay-at-home daughters want to obey. Did anybody care to ask my dad whether he wanted me to do with my life, regardless of what a Vision Forum father might say to his daughter? No—it’s assumed that all truly godly fathers will support the exact same stay-at-home daughter vision for all of their girls. Those who support this patriarchal view hinge a daughter’s proper preparation for marriage and life goals on the father/daughter relationship. We have little to offer girls whose fathers are absent, don’t agree with stay-at-home daughter paradigms or are deceased. In essence—though not in exact words—we relegate them to a sort of amputated daughter trying to run the proper course without being entirely whole. We applaud them for their desire; we support their entrance into college or the workforce or ministry as pitiable exceptions; but they, so our belief system goes, will never be hardcore stay-at-home daughters.
But I say that perhaps God gives daughters different fathers so that different things could be accomplished for His kingdom. Does your father want you to stay home? Seriously consider that as God’s call for your life. Does your father want you to go to college? Seriously consider that as God’s route for you.
And not just your father—what about your mother? While the death or absence of a father is serious and greatly affects a girl’s life, her mother is still her God-given authority—not just a replacement in case the father cannot operate.
I Still Want to Know…
So what is a daughter’s relationship to her father supposed to look like? Check back to the fifth commandment and the requirements to obey your parents (not just your father) as a child. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a girl to remain at home until marriage or until the Lord calls her elsewhere—and if she does, she must submit to her father as head of the house and submit to her mother as queen of the castle. Any adult—daughter, son, stranger—who places herself under the protection of the head of the house and uses his resources and earnings must abide by the rules set in place. I don’t think a daughter must double-check everything with her father in the same way a wife would with her husband; I don’t think she must view the home as her territory and her father as her man; but certainly she must establish rules with her parents and agree to abide by them, as well as seeking their counsel.
Peronally, my parents will allow me more independence once I turn eighteen. I’m not obligated to submit to every decision, but if I wish to remain under their protection and authority and live in their house, I must keep an open dialogue with them about my life. Ultimately I will decide (at the Lord’s direction) what ministry I do, what hobbies I take up, how I spend my time and other big things like who I marry and whether I will remain at home. However, in light of the fifth commandment and my parents’ wisdom, I don’t plan on using that independence irresponsibly. Why wreck my life when I could ask my parents for godly counsel? However, they recede from the position of telling me what to do and instead fall into a full-time mentorship, with a special parental twist.
This may match what you and your parents decide. It may look nothing like it at all. I don’t judge you for the decisions you make. But daughters, one thing is clear: we best honor our Lord by honoring our parents and other wise counselors, instead of following self-determined, well-intentioned paths. If we take seriously the call to follow Christ, we will neither invent an extrabiblical father/daughter relationship nor ignore the biblical relationship between father and daughter. That is the first command with a promise.
p.s. Beautiful Sheila wrote this post in addendum to mine. Do yourself a favor and read it. I love this girl.